Maureen Dowd on The Boy Wonder versus Wonder Woman

Maureen Dowd wonders of Barack Obama, the Boy Wonder, can take on Hillary Clinton, The Wonder Woman. The Boy Wonder has both strengths and weaknesses:

Clearly, the 45-year-old senator is blessed with many gifts. He can write and talk, think and walk, with exceptional grace and agility.

When he wants to, Mr. Obama can rouse the crowd to multiple ovations, as he did yesterday when he talked with a preacher’s passion about the “quiet riot” of frustration of blacks in this country, on issues like Katrina, in a speech before black clergy at Hampton University in Virginia.

But often he reverts to Obambi, tentative about commanding the stage and consistently channeling the excitement he engenders. At times, he seems to be actively resisting his phenom status and easy appeals to emotion. When he should fire up, he dampens. When he should dominate, he’s deferential. When he should lacerate, he’s languid.

Obama took on the lesser foes, such as John Edwards, but missed his chance to go after Hillary Clinton, who dominated both Democratic debates:

In the New Hampshire debate Sunday night, Mr. Obama again missed his chances. Hillary is the one he needs to unseat, but he treads gingerly around her. He seems afraid of a repeat of that moment last December, as the clamor for him to run was building, when he touched her elbow and winked at her on the Senate floor, and she kept walking. He called a friend afterwards, stunned at her icy behavior.

Instead, he wasted his time tangling with Dennis Kucinich in the first debate and slapping back John Edwards in the second.

When Hillary admitted that she had not read the National Intelligence Estimate before voting to authorize the president to go to war, Senator Obama had a clear shot. The woman who always does her homework did not bother to do her homework on the most important vote of her Senate career because her political viability was more important than the president’s duplicity: She felt that, as a woman, she could not cast a flower-child vote if she wanted to run for president. At this fateful moment, she was thinking more of herself than her country. As someone who has been known to tailor the truth to accommodate her ambition, she looked away while W. was doing the same.

Mr. Obama let the opportunity for a sharp comment pass. He made an oblique one, without mentioning her name, noting that former Senator Bob Graham said that the N.I.E. was one of the reasons he voted against the war authorization.

He missed another chance when Hillary said at the beginning of the debate that she believed “we are safer than we were” before 9/11, even though the Democrats won Congress with the opposite argument last fall, and even though the Iraq war has clearly made the world more dangerous than ever.

The next day, after reflecting on the matter overnight, the Obama campaign sent out a rebuttal to Hillary’s ridiculous claim, citing reports showing that radicalization in the Muslim world and terrorism are spreading rather than diminishing. The belated memo was blandly addressed to “Interested Parties.” But by then the only thing that was interesting was why it took Obambi so long.

Fortunately for Obama, few are watching so far and there’s a long way to go. In football, the conventional wisdom is that a team shows the most improvement between the first and second game. Obama did improve between the first and second debate, but must show even more improvement to beat Clinton. Although the media and blogs have been talking about the debates this week, many other factors will also determine the winner and it is way too early to predict a winner.

Michael Bloomberg: Don’t Panic

Michael Bloomberg didn’t exactly quote the famous advice on the cover of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but it sure was a refreshing change from the manner in which many Republicans have played politics with terrorist attacks. Bloomberg said, “”There are lots of threats to you in the world. There’s the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can’t sit there and worry about everything. Get a life.”

Appropriate action must be taken to fight terrorism, but I don’t believe that Bloomberg was advising against this when he said the above, as well as noting, “You have a much greater danger of being hit by lightning than being struck by a terrorist.”

I’m waiting to see which Republicans attack him. If so, it would be quite hypocritical considering all the warnings about terrorism which were ignored by Republicans before 9/11. Republicans didn’t care about terrorism until they found that it worked well for them politically, and even then they engaged in far more talk and scare tactics than effective action. As we see the Republican debate tonight, I’m reminded of John Kerry pushing for more action on homeland security in two of his debates with George Bush, and George Bush saying his recommendations were too expensive.

Keith Olbermann on The Nexus of Politics and Fear



Keith Olbermann reviews The Nexus of Politics and Fear. The video is above, and a transcript is expected later today.

Update: Transcript added under the fold.  (more…)

Obama Ties Clinton in USA Today/Gallup Poll

The early debates have minimal impact as few watch them. The early polls, especially national ones, have little predictive value. Still, after seeing Hillary Clinton dominate this week’s debate, I was pleased to see the news that Barack Obama has tied Clinton in the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll.

I may change my feelings about the candidates several times as I both see them campaign and find out more about them, but after Bill Richardson’s poor performances in both debates and on Meet the Press, Obama is now edging him out for my first choice. It’s too bad Richardson couldn’t get Wolf Blitzer to ask for a show of hands of candidates who support legalization of medicinal marijuana. Depending upon the responses of the other candidates, this could have given Richardson a boost. Of course Blitzer would have asked a question along the lines of how the candidates would feel about using marijuana while there is a ticking bomb in Los Angeles and Jack Bower is busy torturing potential informants for information.

Hillary’s clear debate victory isn’t enough for her to win my support, but this, accompanied by John Edwards’ poor showing, has edged Hillary ahead of Edwards for the moment. I’m still waiting to hear the details of Clinton’s health care plan to really decide on her. The other beneficiary of the debate was Chris Dodd. Previously I haven’t paid much attention to him, but he caught my attention when he answered the final question with making restoration of our Constitutional rights a top priority. The other big loser after the last debate, besides Bill (I’m Governor of New Mexico) Richardson and John (Four And A Half Years Late) Edwards, was Dennis Kucinich. After his “teaching moment” blaming the Democrats for George Bush’s war, Kucinich has now joined Mike Gravel in the “you must be joking” tier of my personal rankings.

Basically, it’s still no friggin’ clue as to who I’ll ultimately support.

Cheneyism Legalized

Appeals court rules that the FCC cannot fine broadcasters if someone blurts out a suggestion that someone go Cheney themself.

(The subplot seems to have disapeared from Studio 60, but this should sure help NBS, which was under pressure from the government when an American soldier used a Cheneyism while being interviewed.)